Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Scandal About Global Warming

The big scandal about global warming isn't over whether it's happening. It's happening, and the effects are horrendous.

The scandal is that in most American living rooms the term "global warming" is taboo, Off limits. Censored. We get alarming reports about the latest storms, the vast wildfires, the horrible drought conditions, the deaths from the heat, but NOT ONE TV OR RADIO WEATHER REPORTER SAYS A WORD ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING.

Newspaper stories in Europe are linking the summer's powerful storms to global warming.

The New Scientist is connecting the dots between superstorms and climate change.

Business journals are beginning to track what business journals track: the huge economic downside of our doing nothing. If the climate doesn't kill us with weather events it will make us poorer and hungrier. I suppose the upside of that is there are business moguls who will find a way to profit from misery.

Global warming (surprise) causes inconveniences like power outages.

Scientists warn that global warming is killing off the world's coral reefs, which protect millions of coastal dwellers from being washed away by the ocean. Reefs also support the populations of fish we eat. Here's a trenchant and frightening analysis from the New York Times.

Still, there is a coordinated embargo of broadcast discussion of global warming. You won't hear about the embargo on TV, but you can read about it in print. Which means only people patient enough to read are aware of the censorship.

Inside Climate News sums it up.

The Houston Chronicle created a storm of controversy when it raised the issue in the newspaper. Houston's weather guys replied, basically claiming they believed in global warming, but thought it might be rude to discuss it on the air.

I've read articles about the heat waves across the U.S. and watched reports about catastrophic superstorms in middle America and millenial floods in Duluth and across Europe...

The Guardian reports.

But I have yet to hear ONE television meteorologist mention global warming or global climate change. Not one. Not once. Scientists, yes; weathercasters, no. Not once. Never. And when a scientist is brought on to discuss the issue a fossil fuel flunky is usually there to rebut it. We have facts and evidence on one side but, apparently, it's only fair to give enormous profits equal time. After all, they pay for it.

I'm not the only one who's noticing this, but an embargoed idea doesn't get discussed. That's the point of embargoes.

Why is the discussion of the embargo confined to sciency and lefty websites?

Is there an organized ban on broadcast meteorologists discussing global warming? TV weather forecasters are where most people learn about what's happening in the atmosphere. Most people think it's the best science there is.

If there is a TV ban on climate change talk (and it appears there is) why aren't major print media outlets reporting on it?

Who is behind it? Who is enforcing it? Why does a weathercaster on TV need to be "brave" to report consensus science in the first place?

My guess is that the fossil fuel billionaire Koch brothers and their paid and programmed pseudo-scientists have ordered the silencing of TV weathermen and weatherwomen. They've frightened program directors to obey their commands. They have successfully cast global warming as dangerously controversial, as something that will threaten friendships and endanger jobs.

This ban on climate change reporting is being enforced despite the fact that most Americans link the extreme weather with climate change. A new Washington Post/Stanford University poll backs this up.

But despite the evidence of our science and the direct experience of most Americans, the science is being censored, suppressed, silenced. This takes money, and the fossil fuel industry has it. Science groups are fighting back. Remember this organization: Forecast The Facts––

Sadly, good science has become risky for the first time since the Enlightenment.

Good science that helps the global population reduce and plan for risks is considered a risk itself. That's ironic. It's also big story. And it's another story that's too risky to report on.

George Will is intelligent enough to know when a fool is running for the Republican presidential nomination, but he has not mastered the basic Venn Diagram. What contains what? Climate contains weather, weather is or can be evidence of climate change but understanding of weather patterns and being able to predict rain a week in advance doesn't imply a mastery of the much greater complexity of climate. Weather is a wholly owned subsidiary of climate just as one company's finances are a tiny portion of the larger economy. And the big worry among climate scientists is that global warming will trigger, is already triggering, larger, more frequent, more powerful more sudden changes in weather.

Media Matters, discussing George Will's lame climate change denial commentary, uses an economics analogy, and it's apt. Because all economics is based on climate. All civilization is based on climate. And the ability of households and companies and economies and societies to survive is predicated on an ability to predict relevant trends, their specific climate, from one season to the next. An economy that gyrates, as ours did prior to the New Deal regulations that steadied and moderated it, is a hard environment to survive in. You would hope economists and corporations would appreciate that and want to ensure against volatility, but sadly short term profits, the weather that rains millions on CEOs, is all that matters to them.

During the winter, when heat sounds like a blessing, climate advocates argue back that "weather is not climate". They are trying to communicate that weather variability doesn't stop and cold weather doesn't entirely disappear just because the planet is heating up on average. It's crucial to note that they are saying this in response to those who claim a snowstorm or a cold snap refutes global warming. Big snowstorms are part of the climate change volatility too. The evidence of a single moment tends to convince most people, and the fossil fuel billionaires use that kind of persuasion. Weathermen also think short term; if their weekly forecast is off, they lose credibility. But climate science is a longer and more complex game than that, and what takes more than a soundbite to explain is usually too complex for Americans to understand. This shortness of attention span may kill us. It will kill our economy first.

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Blogger David Bly said...

Paul Douglas is one Republican meteorologist who does get it but aside from occasional appearances on Almanac doesn't get much play anymore. Perhaps there is a connection here is Huffpost story from him:

12:28 PM  

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